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OPINION: It’s been a long time coming, but where did it all go wrong for Egypt?

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Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

On Monday, Egyptians watched on as the national team went from winning against Saudi Arabia to suffering a last minute loss to the Green Falcons.

Going into the World Cup, many Egyptians were hopeful that the team would make it to the Round of 16 ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia. But the Pharaohs left Russia with zero points and at the bottom of Group A.

However, the performance in Russia was something that could have been predicted prior to the competition. Yes the national team was missing its star Mohamed Salah against Uruguay, but even when he returned against Russia and Saudi Arabia the team still lost and were poor even though he scored two goals.

Quite honestly the international embarrassment that occurred was something that had been brewing for years.

Pre-Group Stage of World Cup Qualifiers

At the beginning of the qualifiers, faced Chad over two legs with the first one away and the second at home. But much like what happened before the World Cup, Salah was injured in the Derby della Capitale against Lazio and missed the pair of matches. The first warning sign should have been that 1-0 loss to Chad. However, the team was able to defeat Chad 4-0 at home with goals from Mohamed Elneny, Abdallah El-Said, and a brace from Ahmed Hassan Kouka. The initial loss was almost wiped from memory.

The second warning could have come in the loss to Jordan. Of course the team will not win all their games, but the loss against Jordan left many scratching their heads. Many will argue that was trying out new players, and though that was true, losing to a team ranked 86 in the world shouldn’t have been a part of it. Moreover, the performance was underwhelming ahead of AFCON 2017 qualifiers.

​”I respect everyone’s opinion and I’m entitled to mine. We tried new tactics and we played well, but sometimes in the game we weren’t good enough and there is always a possibility of failure.” – Héctor Cúper

But as we have quickly learned from Mr. Cúper’s press conferences, he still viewed everything to be in fine shape and on the surface, they were. Yet, whispers started emerging on the state of the squad. The Argentinian had come to rely on the same 15 players with solid players from around the league not receiving ample time to prove themselves, something that came back to haunt him in the long-term.

Yet, maybe the loss to South Africa with Salah playing the full match should have been a warning. Just days before, Egypt had drawn with Guinea 1-1 after Ramadan Sobhi missed the potentially game winning penalty. Though Cúper acknowledged that there were mistakes, there was no improvement in the match against South Africa.

From KingFut‘s review of the two friendlies we find the motto of the national team under Cúper.

“Cuper was too defensive as usual and dependent on counter-attacks and that was very apparent in these friendlies. Egypt failed to initiate proper threatening attacks on the opponent’s goal and they surely need to attack with more vigour in the future.”

It wasn’t till right before AFCON, however, that we learned Egypt’s style could be labeled as pseudo-defensive at best.

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In addition to being a football/soccer and basketball enthusiast, I am currently pursuing a combined BS/MD degree at VCU. I also currently work as a Pharmacy Technician in my spare time.



  1. Gogi

    July 1, 2018 at 11:34 PM

    All went wrong when Cúper was signed. He’s the definition of a loser. That there are people who think he should be thanked for anything is baffling. Goodbye Cúper and keep on being “good, but unlucky”. Lol.

  2. Rameses

    July 2, 2018 at 12:35 AM

    Firstly thank you kingfut as for once you’ve prepared an honest assessment of the national team.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Cúper set out to steal games simply because he had no players to work with. I don’t understand how inter signed trezeguet to be honest he is nothing but a pony on the field and Warda is just that… a flower! Hegazi is one of the worst defenders I’ve ever seen in an Egypt shirt (unless you count aly ZOBR who should not be surprised he didn’t get one game for WBA because he is toilet!).

    Having said this now however and on reflection of the performances at the AFCON and watching the abysmal performances at the World Cup, the man has no plan B nor can he teach teams how to defend… look at Uruguay this is how men defend!

    The next manager will not do any better because the players are still coming out the same system. We MUST revisit sports as a whole in the country! Let’s bring back street tournaments and pick out players and train them properly. Invest the next manager’a salary there instead!

    Finally, HOW THE HELL DO YOU LOSE TO THE SAUDIS!? Seriously come on!!!!!!! I bet they took rolexes each one of those losers to throw the game.

  3. Henry AbuO

    July 2, 2018 at 2:51 AM

    I disagree. Cuper was a decent coach. We got a decent coach but we wanted superb results. Although towards the end of the campaign why he kept insisting everything is all right or kept playing the same formation after loosing to World Cup teams prior and during the World Cup itself, really left my scratching my head. Egypt did make it to the World Cup after 28 years. But to do something big, honestly i don’t think anybody was thinking that prior to this dilemma.

    • Mohamad

      July 2, 2018 at 7:05 PM

      There is a huge difference between doing something big and getting embarrassed, ok? You know that, don’t act as if you don’t understand that. We got embarrassed and we deserved to. We finished with Panama as the only teams with no points, PANAMA!!! Do you understand that? And our style of play was terrible, so we provided terrible football that Cuper, you and the likes called “pragmatic” in hopes getting results even if it means sacrificing pride in showing our abilities to the world. But instead we got nothing but embarrassment.

      • Henry AbuO.

        July 3, 2018 at 9:16 AM

        I don’t know where you got the word “pragmatic” from. Perhaps it was on the cereal box you ate from for breakfast? All I said he was a decent coach and that he was the coach in charge when Egypt made it to the World cup (after 28 years absence). Whether Egypt it made it by luck or association, Cuper was the coach. Those are facts and he does deserve credit.
        Remind you so, we’ve seen several different coaches with several different modes and tactics. Some offensive, some defensive but during their era’s no one in the past 28 years has led Egypt to the world cup.
        As far as results in the world cup… I think the whole mindset of fans changed once we entered the world cup. I, personally, was not to content with our results but maybe it was greed or being over exuberant. However, whichever reason one would choose of why Egypt did not advance or played what you deem as non-pragmatic (IE lack of player experience, mohammed salah’s injury, lack of fan support, the stadium conditions, etc etc) does not subtract the fact that Egypt made it INTO the world cup after 28 years absent.
        Hard Luck

        • Gogi

          July 7, 2018 at 11:05 AM

          That Egypt has made it to the World Cup and therefore Cúper shold be considered decent is the crappiest argument ever. Football is a sport in which luck plays a HUGE role. He simply got lucky. While in the last qualifications we often were incredibly unlucky or we had to endure very suspicious refereeing or CAF decisions which prevented us from making it. For the record: Shehata achieved the same amount of points in qualifying in a stronger group and playing much more appealing football. The reason we didn’t qualify was EXTREMELY dubious refereeing in favour of Algeria in their home matches against Zambia and Rwanda. I’ve seen them live and it was unbelievable.

          • Henry AbuO

            July 8, 2018 at 6:12 AM

            I apologize that your education is crap. I never single handedly wrote or said Cuper is decent because he took Egypt to the world cup. I I’ve opinionated that he is a decent coach in general and I say this due to several personal reasons; one of which includes he has not changed his playing style and was consistent in using the same players yet still managed lead a low african team to the top spot in their qualifying group during their world cup campaign. Hassan Shehata could not manage to do such things. We needed an American to refresh the memories of Egyptians when it came to playing competitive soccer. His name is Bob Bradley. Anyways go back and review my statements and lets not jump to conclusions or extrapolate on data which isn’t there. Hada Nfsak Malich ya Gaga

    • El Pharao

      July 2, 2018 at 8:06 PM

      I disagree with you. Even Gohary who got us to the world cup after more than the double of cuper, i think 60 years, have better results. 2 draws and a loss. Cuper is the worst coach Egypt ever had.

  4. Mahmoud

    July 4, 2018 at 1:24 AM

    Its simple world cup weighs too heavy for egypt

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